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Posted by on Aug 15, 2014

Feedback: Pay it Forward

You’ve heard of the expression “pay it forward,” where instead of repaying a favor when a person helps you out, you pay the favor forward by helping someone else when they need it. Well, I couldn’t help but think of this idea as I was recently looking over survey data gathered by a team of my Management Concepts colleagues.

YourFeedbackMattersEach year we work with many individuals who are either working towards or have recently moved into supervisory roles in their organization, and we were curious to see how prepared they felt to take on their new responsibilities.

We asked them a variety of questions about how they:

  • Understand their current supervisory abilities, including their natural leadership skills, personal strengths, and comfort with stepping up to new challenges
  • Understand crucial supervisory skills, such as performance management and career development
  • Can get the best work out of others
  • Make good things happen — by being aware of their surroundings and situations, and taking steps to elicit the best outcome
  • Are prepared to lead others when the organizational landscape is constantly changing

Not surprisingly, after surveying more than 500 emerging leaders, some interesting observations jumped out of the results.

Keeping it Real
I was glad to see that the majority of those who took our supervisor readiness assessment are approaching their supervisory role with a sense of openness and a healthy dose of optimism. They are energized by the ability to help others, and ready to embrace the diversity of those they lead, knowing their teams are likely multi-generational and have varying viewpoints. They are eager to be flexible when challenges arise and willing to recognize when they need to develop new leadership skills to be a better supervisor. More importantly, in my opinion, I am encouraged by their overwhelming interest in asking others to share their observations and experiences and their willingness to take responsibility for mistakes — choosing rather to view them as opportunities for growth.

Pay it Forward
You must approach a supervisory role with a sense of optimism because the reality is being a supervisor is both rewarding and challenging. The good days feel great and put wind behind your sails, but it’s how you choose to navigate difficult situations that is crucial to your success and the success of those you supervise. I bring this up because our survey also showed that the vast majority of new supervisors were, let’s say, hesitant when it comes to bringing up negative or counterproductive behaviors, addressing sensitive topics like poor performance, or giving feedback in general. Understandable responses? No doubt. The good news is you can learn strategies and techniques that make those less-than-comfortable feedback conversations very positive experiences.

FeedbackAnd that’s where pay it forward comes into play. When supervisors take feedback seriously and provide it consistently and constructively, it is the greatest thing you can do to help those you supervise to perform to the best of their ability.  And as an added bonus, it positions them for future supervisory roles. The beautiful thing is that when employees receive the right support from a supervisor, they often are motivated and engaged to pay it forward by becoming supervisors that understand the value of feedback. Over time, that can go a long way towards building a feedback culture, which is priceless

We’d love to hear about how supervisor feedback helped you, and we challenge you to now pay it forward.

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